Classy Counsel retain crown
Top Oil South Leinster Juvenile football 'A' final: Good Counsel 2-14 St. Peter's 0-1
There may have been a major turnover in personnel since last February, but it still looks like Good Counsel (New Ross) will make a serious bid to retain their Top Oil provincial Juvenile football 'A' championship title.
Certainly, they were in a different class entirely in the biting cold of Cushinstown on Thursday when they held on to their South Leinster crown with considerable ease, restricting arch-rivals St. Peter's (Wexford) to just one pointed free with a display of power and poise.
Only three of the winning team - joint captains Danny Glennon and Eoin Whelan, plus full-forward Kyle Rankin - started last February when Counsel demolished Scoil Aodháin of Whitehall by 7-20 to 1-1 to claim a seventh provincial crown in the grade, while Cathal Parker and Cillian Byrne were introduced as substitutes on that occasion.
However, mentors Kevin Kehoe and Kevin Bates have shaped another superb side in the image and likeness of the 2017-'18 crew, and they will now enter the Leinster semi-final against the Dublin champions with a considerable degree of optimism.
It didn't help the challengers from St. Peter's that they had to play into the strong wind blowing towards the Terrerath end first, and they struggled from the off as Counsel established a commanding 0-10 to 0-1 interval lead.
Kyle Rankin got the favourites off the mark before a Sam Norval drive off the ground was turned over the bar by netminder Eoin Halligan in the fifth minute.
Counsel posed a constant threat, and the only down side of their opening half display was the failure to score a goal that would have made the game completely safe.
Still, that was only a minor quibble, as further points by Eoin Whelan, Cathal Parker, Whelan (free) and Rankin, with a rising shot, left them clear by 0-6 to nil at the end of the first quarter.
Rankin later powered another effort off goalkeeper Halligan and the crossbar before Peter's finally launched an attack in the 17th minute, with Luke Murphy earning and converting a free for their sole score of a one-sided contest.
A hat-trick of Eoin Whelan points, two from placed balls, plus a Cathal Parker free, left Counsel with that nine-point interval lead, and Peter's clearly needed some early scores on the re-start to have any chance of making a comeback.
That never looked like happening, though, with full-back Seán Whelan strong in the air for the leaders, and speedy joint captain Danny Glennon repeatedly clearing any danger from his number six position.
Counsel came close to a goal in the 38th minute when Eoghan Lyng rattled the crossbar from a Kyle Rankin handpass, but it wasn't long before they did raise that elusive green flag.
The St. Peter's backs were all sucked outfield towards the scene of a free awarded to Counsel on the right wing, leaving Sam Norval all alone with only Eoin Halligan to beat when he was picked out with an astute quick kick.
He rolled the ball to the net with his left foot, and a deflated St. Peter's never rose a gallop thereafter.
They will be disappointed at their failure to perform anywhere even close to their best on the day when it was needed most, but at the same time it must be acknowledged that Counsel were in irresistible form.
Strong midfielder Eoin Whelan pointed two more frees, and in between the rebound from his speculative kick towards goal was finished to the net by Kyle Rankin.
Regular centre-forward Joe Devlin, who didn't start due to sickness, and Cathal Parker completed the point-taking for Counsel whose overall strength was reflected in the huge contributions made by Peter McDonald and Cillian Byrne even though neither made the scoresheet.
The latter funnelled back as an extra defender when his team faced the wind in the second-half, while defenders Bill Nunan and James Quinn also stood out on this very accomplished team.
Good Counsel: Mathew Murphy (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown); Conor Fahy (Our Lady's Island), Seán Whelan (Gusserane), Bill Nunan (Fethard); James Quinn (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Danny Glennon (Tullogher-Rosbercon, joint capt.), Dean Kehoe (Adamstown); Oisín Mac Eochaidh (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Eoin Whelan (Fethard, joint capt., 0-7, 5 frees); Peter McDonald (Mullinavat), Sam Norval (St. Martin's, 1-1), Cathal Parker (Horeswood, 0-3, 1 free); Eoghan Lyng (The Rower-Inistioge), Kyle Rankin (St. Fintan's, 1-2), Cillian Byrne (Fethard). Subs. - Joe Devlin (Bannow-Ballymitty, 0-1) for Norval (44), Conor Bolger (The Rower-Inistioge) for Lyng (52), Chris Murphy (Geraldine O'Hanrahans) for Rankin (55), Evan Cullen (St. Fintan's) for Mac Eochaidh (55), Cathal Mooney (Tullogher-Rosbercon) for Fahy (58), James Doyle (St. Mullins) for Parker (58), also William Foley (Horeswood), Ben Keeley (Cloughbawn), James Lyng (The Rower-Inistioge), Ciarán McPhillips (St. James'), Cathal Doyle (Tullogher-Rosbercon), Joe Mulholland (The Rower-Inistioge), Aidan Shannon (St. James'), Jack Rossiter (Gusserane), Aleksei Kyznetsopv (Geraldine O'Hanrahans), Ciarán Vereker (Glenmore), James Dempsey (Horeswood), Joe McPhillips (St. James').
St. Peter's: Eoin Halligan (Sarsfields); Daniel Ormonde (Shelmaliers), Robert Delaney (Shelmaliers), Alfie Jeffares (St. Martin's); Alex Kirby (Sarsfields), Daniel Brazzill (Glynn-Barntown), Will Hayes (Glynn-Barntown); Ryan Curran (Glynn-Barntown), Finn Ryan (St. Anne's); Seán Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Cian Turner (Glynn-Barntown), Luke Murphy (Sarsfields, 0-1 free); Joe Mernagh (St. Martin's, capt.), Kyle Clark-Hanglow (St. Mary's, Rosslare), Seán Cooney (Glynn-Barntown). Subs. - Jack O'Leary (Shelmaliers) for Clark-Hanglow (45), Simon Roche (Oulart-The Ballagh) for Ormonde, inj. (50), Cian White (Glynn-Barntown) for Kirby (55), also Ciarán Cash (Blackwater), Cillian Cullen (Bannow-Ballymitty), Oisín Kavanagh (St. Martin's), Seamus Ormonde (Oulart-The Ballagh), Ciarán Shortle (St. Mary's, Maudlintown), Lee Kelly (St. Fintan's), Cuán Gallagher (Sarsfields), Shane Kelly (Shelmaliers), Lughaidh Hayden (Glynn-Barntown).
Referee: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow).